By John V Sserwaniko
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) David Kakuba recently met air transport stakeholders, an engagement during which he highlighted why he considers 2018 to have been a good year for the aviation industry. He enumerated what had been accomplished by CAA (mandated to promote regular, secure and efficient use of air transport services) in the past 12 months. From the very onset, he said the best way to assess performance of any air transport system is looking at air traffic (passenger) levels (in our case coming through Entebbe which is our only International Airport). Going by that indicator, CAA performed impressively because between January and October 2018, more than 1,192,405 passengers travelled through Entebbe International Airport (EIA)-clearly exceeding 2017’s traffic by over 130,099 passengers. This shows increased confidence in Entebbe as a travel destination and to contextualize this milestone, Kakuba referred to how Ugandan aviation has evolved over time. He said in 2017, the figure stood at 1.62m international and transit passengers compared to 118,000 passengers of 1991 when CAA had just been established. Cargo in 2017 stood at 69,000 metric tons compared to 1991’s 6,600 metric tons. That EIA closed the year with 18 scheduled and 26 nonscheduled air service operators is further testimony of an excellent year for CAA, Kakuba bragged. Yet that isn’t all. The regulator managed to issue 4 Air Service Licenses to Uganda Airlines, Kush Air Uganda, Ugawings Aviation and Africana International Air Services. This is an indication that growing numbers continue to be attracted to doing business in the CAA-regulated space. Additional proof that it remains a promising industry manifested in operators who applied to renew their Air Services provision licenses in the Ugandan space. CAA cooperated with and duly renewed licenses for Kampala Executive Aviation and Kampala Aeroclub & Flight Training Centre. The resumption of flights to EIA by Air Tanzania in August 2018 was another vote of confidence in Kakuba’s CAA. Jumbo Jet, a low-cost carrier, too resumed flight operations in February 2018 and ended the year doing pretty well. Gold Jet Airline is also back and is early 2019 commencing flights to UK via Accra.
THE BASA DEALS;
CAA’s high performance standards and ICAO-compliance levels inspired major players to sign Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) with Uganda. Those signing up in 2018 included Canada, Israel and Switzerland. Kakuba says consequently, EL AR Israel will February this year be commencing flights to Entebbe and the biggest beneficiary will be the regular pilgrims who have endured the inconvenience of meandering through Egypt to access the Holy Land in Israel for pilgrimage. This would be costly in terms of money and transit time. On matters to do with Quality Management Systems (QMS), CAA didn’t disappoint. It excelled by qualifying to be awarded the prestigious ISO 9001: 2015 QMS certification bestowed by highly reputable United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS). And Eng Monica Azuba Ntege, who as Works & Transport Minister is Kakuba’s overall supervisor, says “that’s why I like and I’m very proud of my team at CAA.” She says that UKAS’ recognition is indicative of the very high best practice standards CAA has achieved. She says this is all good for the tourism industry and Uganda’s economy as the quality of aviation services greatly impacts on tourism receipts for any country. In fact that is why she is enthusiastic about efforts to have CAA represented on the UTB governing board and vice versa. Kakuba explains that acquisition of ISO 9001: 2015 is an improvement on the ISO 9001: 2008 rating CAA and EIA accomplished earlier in 2016. He says this new standard rating applies to CAA, EIA and all GoU aerodromes upcountry. In the Great Lakes region, Uganda is one of the three countries whose Aviation entities have acquired the ISO 9001: 2015 certification standard. The other two countries are Kenya and Tanzania. Insisting this is no mean achievement, Kakuba says the ICAO set deadline was December 2019 when at least 60% of all African Countries must have attained that standard. Gratefully, Uganda has attained that certification standard way ahead of time and thereby securing her place as one of the few very compliant African countries. Kakuba says CAA will even be rating more favorably in subsequent ICAO audit reviews once the long-awaited legal reforms are effected on the CAA Act in existence since the early 1990s. Gratefully, according to Parliament’s Communications Officer Charles Bukuwa MPs recently overwhelmingly voted for the much-needed Civil Aviation Amendments Bill (2017) aimed at consolidating CAA’s operations and compliance to international standards set/imposed by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Moved by MP James Waluswaka, the Physical Infrastructure committee member who wrote a minority report, (Bukuwa says) the plenary voted for all the amendments considered appropriate to enable CAA operate better. The Parliament’s clarification sent to us (to correct earlier false reporting showing the house had rejected the bill) further indicated that the only proposal that was rejected related to splitting of CAA’s regulation and operations mandate. This wouldn’t only dilute CAA but would also necessitate establishing another entity which MPs rejected on grounds MDAs are already too many and government policy is to merge and reduce on them. In previous audit reports, ICAO had specifically called for amendment to among other things establish an independent accidents investigations unit (that is independent of CAA’s funding). The other key aspect is empowering CAA airworthiness inspectors to have unlimited access to aircrafts and private aerodromes without first seeking business owner’s permission.
AUTOMATING ENTEBBE IA;
Utilizing part of South Korean aid agency KOICA’s $9.5m grant to the GoU, CAA has undertaken massive automation of almost all its processes. The automation-related interventions have gone into improving airspace management & flight procedure designs; Air Traffic Services (ATS) message handling system; Airport Operations Database Management and digitalization of Air Traffic Management. The other 2018 accomplishments include installation of Modern Terminal Operations Control Center and as well as establishment of the training facility at CAA head offices in Entebbe. In the same year, the ATC Radar & Airspace management system was upgraded and thereby extending its life span by another 10 years.
Using internally-generated funds, the CAA management invested a lot in infrastructural improvements in the year 2018 including car parking expansion from 260 to 410 parking slots. Departure immigration counters have been increased from 6 to 11 and arrivals immigration counters expanded from 14 to 20-and Kakuba says this has resulted decongesting the queues and thereby saving travelers’ time at EIA. One counter is dedicated to serving PWDs. Expansion works aimed at expansion consolidated on the passenger terminal building to expand on the space available for the comfort of the arriving and departing passengers. The expansion works are being undertaken by Seyani Brothers Ltd. The upgrade works on the core infrastructure of EIA itself, which began in 2016 by CCCC, consolidated throughout the year 2018 and it’s a $200m project with funding from China. At the completion of the project, the $200m works will result into a 100,000 tons state-of-the-art cargo center being put in place. It will also deliver cargo aircraft parking Apron whose construction works in 2018 reached 84% and Airside access roads whose construction in 2018 reached 90% completion. Still in 2018, CAA expanded the old Aircraft parking Apron and EIA’s runway was rehabilitated. Works carried on for the reconstruction of the fuel hydrant project.
THE UPCOUNTRY EXPERIENCE;
Aviation facilities upcountry haven’t been ignored in the same year as three Airfields were earmarked for elevation to International Airport status as envisaged in CAA’s 20 year Master Plan. These are Arua, Kasese and Gulu Airfields. In 2018, land acquisition processes were completed besides the drawing of plans and engineering designs for the three airfields. In Arua passenger terminal construction works began and the associated taxiways. Arua will cost $233m with first phase taking up to $56m. Kasese upgrade will cost $170m with $53m going into first phase that will see a 2.5km runway, the aircraft parking Apron and fire station constructed. For Soroti-based East African Civil Aviation Academy (EAAA), the certification process for the acquisition of Aircraft Maintenance Organization (AMO) was completed in line with ICAO SARPs requirements. Next for Soroti EAAA will be acquisition of the Aviation Training Organization (ATO) certification and Kakuba says the academy now has all the infrastructure requirements for initial operations adding onto the fully fledged Air Traffic Management System already in place. Also in place is the fire truck for emergency purposes, another 2018 acquisition. In the latter part of 2018, CAA built capacity and commenced on preparations to securely and efficiently handle increased traffic operations expected to result from the December 2019 Kampala G77 Summit that will see more than 100 heads of state and other international VIPs come through Entebbe. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.